Not a single penny allotted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was utilised by 21 gram panchayats in Kendrapara district for which show cause notice has been issued to the sarpanches and panchayat executive officers.
The district administration had served the show cause notice to the gram panchayats four days ago and had given them 15 days time to reply as to why they could not spend the funds for implementing the Centers flagship poverty alleviation project,official sources said.
“The administration has resolved to expedite the completion of pending projects. Those found negligent in executing the work would be taken to task. The errant officials and sarpanches are being penalised,” Kendrapara Collector Niranjan Nayak said.
The 21 gram panchayats were identified as Bagada,Dashipur,Shilipur,Bachara,Balipatana,Baluria,Nilakanthapur,Penthapala,Mangalpur,Koranda,Pradhanpada,Pegarapada,Aragala,Attala,Badambila,Bhuinpur,Kuladiha,Narendrapur,Nuapada,Padanipala and Sansida,the sources said.
The implementation of the flagship project was left much to be desired in the entire district with 230 gram panchayats where only 50 per cent of funds allocated for 2012-2013 financial year could be spent. An estimated Rs 8.81 crore was lying unspent during the current fiscal,the sources said.
“That is why,there is every possibility of central allocation being stopped towards Kendrapara district as utilisation certificates of sixty per cent of the projects are yet to be submitted”,an official said. Of the 3,478 projects taken up for work in Kendrapara district,only 506 projects have so far been completed. Work on the rest 2,972 projects was in progress.
Quite a few departments such as irrigation,horticulture,pisciculture,animal husbandry and forest have turned out to be defaulters in executing the projects,the sources said. Kendrapara district was brought under the NREGS purview in 2008-09. The ambitious poverty eradication and rural economy enhancement envisages to provide enhanced livelihood security to the households in rural areas.
The scheme intends to provide at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work,said officials. Official apathy and low wage rate were attributed for the half-hearted implementation of MGNREGS projects. Locals said there was gross absence of coordination among various government departments.
The sarpanches were mostly shying away from implementing MGNREGS as the central scheme comes with stringent guidelines and pilferage-proof mechanism,the locals said. NREGA was largely free from funds misuse and corrupt practices in the district.
However,since past one year,misuse of central funds has come to the notice. Instances of fake muster roll and undeserving job-card holders,machines doing the work of manual labour had hogged the spotlight in some places,the official said. But the irregularities were considerably of lesser magnitude,the official said.